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Time to fix mobile ‘not spots’

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Mobile phone signal dead spot

Businesses in all parts of the UK are experiencing full or partial ‘not-spots’ in their mobile coverage, according to the results of a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce.

The survey of 1,465 businesses found that 70% experience mobile ‘not-spots’, areas of no mobile coverage by any operator, or ‘partial not-spots’, where there is some coverage but not from all networks.

The problem is worse in rural areas, where an astonishing 91% of businesses report problems, but even parts of London are susceptible.

The results also show that 29% of businesses have unreliable mobile internet connections, with the figure rising to 54% in rural areas.

Some of the solutions are obvious. Relaxing planning laws to allow for taller masts would be a quick win to help improve mobile coverage.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “All across the country businesspeople complain about patchy mobile coverage and unreliable internet connections.

“But if you think there’s a problem in parts of London or Manchester, try using a mobile in rural Cumbria. There are large swathes of the county where the mobile signal can be described as erratic at best.

“Time and again, I hear from frustrated businesspeople who can’t use their mobiles or access the internet when they need to.

“Some of the solutions are obvious. Relaxing planning laws to allow for taller masts would be a quick win to help improve mobile coverage.

The survey also found that a high proportion of businesses are not accessing the highest connection speed, with only 42% enjoying a 4G connection.

The Government’s Digital Strategy, launched earlier this year, promises major enhancements in telecoms infrastructure.

One plank is a ‘universal service obligation’ for high-speed broadband.

By 2020, every individual and business will have the right to request an affordable high-speed broadband connection of at least 10Mbps.

By 2020, every individual and business will have the right to request an affordable high-speed broadband connection of at least 10Mbps.

And it pledges that 98 per cent of the UK land mass will have a 4G mobile signal by the end of 2017.

Rob added: “The results of our research suggest that we’re a long way off achieving that target.

“The regulator, Ofcom, must do more to hold providers to account for the services advertised to business customers, and put in place remedies that are as strong for business users as they are for individual consumers.”

Baker Bells of Lazonby is one of the Cumbrian businesses grappling with erratic or non-existent mobile phone coverage.

Managing director Michael Bell said: “We have customers who visit our site and they can’t get a mobile phone signal.

“That’s embarrassing and needs sorting out.”

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

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